Decreasing Post-Blast Re-entry Time with Wireless Gas and Geotechnical Monitoring

Research conducted at the Glencore Kidd Mine in Timmins, Ontario, illustrates how Newtrax technology ensures rapid improvement in post-blast re-entry time, resulting in a more efficient mining process and increased copper yield.

INEFFECTIVE MANUAL METHOD

Traditionally, post-blast monitoring has been based on a fixed-time period method.  After a blast, a pre-determined period of time must pass before a single person can enter the zone and measure levels of toxic gases with a hand-held device.  This procedure typically takes 10-12 hrs, with further delays if ventilation damage needs repair.  So there is a health risk at hand, as well as an obvious incision in productivity rates, all based on poor data transmission from the blast point to the face.

NEWTRAX SOLUTION: REMOTE GEOTECHNICAL MONITORING

Newtrax technologies have built and effect remedy to this key procedural issue.  In collaboration with Conspec and MDT technologies, Newtrax installed a battery-powered remote gas and geotechnical monitoring system into the infrastructure network of the Glencore mine, providing real-time data acquisition from the blast point to the surface.  This means that personnel can monitor the gaseous levels at the blast point from the safety of the control room, without any risk of exposure.

geotechnical monitoring

Newtrax’s Central Server showing a map of 7900 Level on the left, and a steeply rising gas concentration immediately after a blast and subsequent null readings at a rapid rate of decay.

Below is an example of an effective blast as shown through the analysis of the Newtrax system.  As you can see, CO levels rise sharply – before quickly falling.  This quick fall in CO levels means that the ventilation system survived the blast fully intact.  Overall, the study found that an average blast (ie without any ventilation damage) took, from start of blast to resumption of work, roughly 7 hrs.

remote monitoring

One of the best features of the Newtrax real-time remote monitoring system is that personnel can gauge, from the level of gaseous fumes present in the blast area, if there is any ventilation damage or ground material in the way – and where it is located.

If there is damage, personnel can begin collecting the tools to fix the damaged area without having to enter the area, as the software continues to track the gaseous fumes slowly dissipating from the blast point.  Without the Newtrax technology, personnel would have to wait until the area was deemed safe, before manually trying to figure out where the damage is.

REMOTE MONITORING SAVES KEY MAN HOURS

The study conducted at Kidd Mine found that Newtrax technologies helped limit the period for repairs to roughly 2 hrs.  With Newtrax technology in place, the average time from blast to recurrence of work was 9 hrs – whereas without Newtrax, it took a minimum of 12 hrs for repairs to be completed.

The authors of this research paper estimate that Kidd Mine saved 5-6 production man hours per shift, whether it be through releasing areas for production that are no longer seismically active, or through redeployment of miners involved in mucking, drilling and development.  This improved data collection and subsequent redeployment represented an additional 200 tonnes of extraction per year, containing 3% copper.  Over the course of a year, this works out to USD $35,000 in copper yields.

Furthermore, improvements in ventilation damage assessment and subsequent re-deployment saved the workers 1 – 2 hrs per shift.  A rough translation of these productivity increases into copper yields over a year works out to USD $5,000-15,000.

EMPIRICAL VALUE OF REMOTE MONITORING

So the conclusion of the case-study is overwhelming clear: the evidence illustrates that the Newtrax wireless gas monitoring solution allows for crucial improvements in efficiency and safety.  As these are the two most important aspects of a successful mine over the long-term, Newtrax has positioned itself quite seamlessly at the forefront of mining technology, representing the industry benchmark for safety and productivity in underground hard rock mining.